Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Updating vSphere 6.5 with vSphere Update Manager

Update Manager has been and is the tool for upgrading and patching ESXi hosts, virtual appliances and VMs. There was only one caveat: it needed a Windows server to run on. It needed it, because starting with version 6.5, vSphere Update Manager is no longer dependent on Microsoft Windows. Update Manager 6.5 is embedded in vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 and uses the internal vPostgres database. The Windows offering still exists, but now there is a choice between going all Windows or all Linux.

From the point of view of functionality, one of the features Update Manger offers is orchestrated ESXi host updates. Since I got a few questions related to host updates, I will describe in the post how to do the update. In my case I updated from vSphere 6.5 to 6.5a. Not a big step, but enough to prove a point.

I've started by downloading the latest ESXi ISO from VMware site, then logged in vCenter Web Client and uploade the image in Update Manager. In Web Client go to Home - Update Manager - Manage tab - ESXi Images and select Import ESXi Image. Browse to the location of the ISO image and upload it.

After the upload is successful, the image will be displayed in the list imported images. Select it and you can see the software packages that are included in the image:

Now the desired image is in the repository. To use the image, we need to attach it to a baseline. Then the baseline will be attached to the hosts or clusters that we want to update. Right click on the image and select create baseline, type the name of the baseline, optionally add a description and press OK. 

The baseline is displayed in Hosts Baseline tab:

Attach the new baseline to cluster of hosts. In Web Client go to Home - Hosts and Cluster, right click cluster, in the action list go to Update Manager and select Attach Baseline. Select the appropriate baseline an click OK. Next, go to Update Manager tab and press Scan for Updates to check the compliance status of the hosts in the cluster.

After the scan finishes, the Non-Compliant message is displayed and we can start the remediation process. Pressing Remediate starts the wizard. First, select the baseline to apply (there might be other baselines attached to the hosts). 

Then select the targets, in my case I've selected all the hosts in the cluster:

Accept the EULA, go to Adanced options and schedule the remediation to take place during a specific maintenance window or whether to ignore warnings that may appear during update. In this case we'll run the remediation immediately:

On Host remediation options select what to do with the VMs when hosts are put into maintenance mode: leave them on, suspend or power off. Removable media mounted to VMs can be automatically disabled. In case entering maintenance mode fails, we can specify how many times to retry and how long to wait between retries. The settings can be saved as default host remediation options for future upgrades.

Finally, the Cluster remediation options enables changes at cluster level - disable DPM, disable Fault Tolerance, disable HA admission control. Powered off and suspended VMs can be migrated to other hosts in the cluster while a host enters maintenance mode. Finally you may select to enable parallel cluster remediation and to specify how many hosts to process in parallel or let Update Manager decide the number based on the cluster settings. Parallel remediation is applied only on hosts where VMs are powered off or suspended. Also, VSAN cluster allows only for one host to be in maintenance mode at a time. Hosts in VSAN cluster will be updated sequentially.

If remediation is sequential and one of the host fails to enter maintenance mode, Update Manager will report an error and stop the remediation process. When parallel processing is selected, if Update Manager encounters an error, it ignores the host and it continues with the next host in the cluster. 

On the summary page you can run a a pre-check remediation report which will provide information about issues with the environment and will suggest what changes to apply:

Press OK and the remediation process will start. At the end of the process, the status of overall compliance in Update Manger tab will display Compliant. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Veeam VMware vSphere Web Client Plug-in

Somehow I keep on getting back to restarting this activity, which is very rewarding, but also time consuming. Since I've accepted a new position with another company, I am reviving the blog. Again. I'm starting to see a pattern here. 

First, let me start with a disclaimer: the posts and opinions herein are my own. Not representing the company I work for, or the vendor, or anything official.

First topic on the list is Veeam vSphere Web Client Plugin. I've chosen this because it integrates Veeam Backup & Replication console (VBR from now on) with vSphere Web Client allowing the virtualization admin to have an understanding of what is going on with "those backups".

The plugin provides the following widgets:
- VMs Overview - details about protected VMs, restore points, source VM size, backup size
- Processed VMs - backed up and replicated
- Repositories - capacity, bakup size, free space
- Jobs statistics - running jobs,  successful jobs, errors

In addition to all the information displayed, it also enables the virtualization admin to run VeeamZIP (full backup file that acts as an independent restore point) and QuickBackup (on-demand incremental backup - needs the existence of a full backup) tasks.

Now let's see how we get the plugin installed and configured.

First, we need to have Veeam Enterprise Manager (EM) installed in the infrastructure. It is not usually installed since EM is utilized to manage multiple VBR installations from a single console. Having only one VBR instance doesn't make a use case for EM, unless you are using encryption in your environment. In this case, EM is used in the encryption/decryption process. There are a few other considerations for Enterprise Manager, one them being deploying vSphere Web Client Plugin. The installation of EM is not covered in this article. It needs a Windows server and SQL database. In our demo lab, EM was installed on the same server with Veeam ONE using the already deployed SQL Express.

After installation, open EM console and login. Go to Configuration and add VBR servers that you will manage from EM:

Next, go to vCenter Server tab and you will see the list of Veeam managed servers populated. Looking at the plugin status you will see "Unknown" meaning no check has been done for that particular vCenter Server:

In the above image, there are 2 servers that have already been configured with the plugin. For those it shows the status "Installed" and the plugin version. In order to install the plugin on a new vCenter Server, select the server and then press Check version. Fill in username and password for connecting to vCenter Server and press ok. The status will change from "Pending" to "Not installed".

You will notice the "Install" button is activated. Press "Install" and wait for the status to change to "Installed":

Next, login to vSphere Web Client and on you should see the plugin on the home page of vCenter Server client:

The plugin displays two tabs - Summary and Settings. The Summary tab contains four widgets:
- VMs Overview

- Jobs statistics
- Processed VMs

- Repositories 

Settings tab allows configuration of EM server, the user account for web plugin to connect to EM and Veeam ONE (if it exists in the infrastructure). 
When Veeam ONE is configured, predefined reports can be accessed directly from the widgets. For example the Repositories widget provides a link to Capacity Planning for Backup Repositories report:

Finally, the web client plugin implements VeeamZIP and Quick Backup functionality in the VM context menu, empowering the virtualization administrator to create full and incremental on demand backups. 

Before being able to run the backup actions, we need to configure the plugin by selecting VeeamZIP to.... Next you configure the destination backup server, repository, retention policy and compression level 

After selecting the desired values, press VeeamZIP button to save the configuration. From now on, you can run backups directly from vSphere Web Client.